David Costa pankihtamwa at earthlink.net
Mon Aug 28 21:42:24 UTC 2006

>>> If I'm understanding correctly, it seems to be agreed that the word for
>>> 'squash' reconstructs phonologically throughout (eastern?) Algonquian
>> No, just plain 'Algonquian'. It's found throughout the family, from Micmac to
>> Cree to Arapaho to Shawnee to Delaware and almost all points in between. The
>> only decently-documented part of Algonquian where it's NOT found are the
>> Southern New England languages (the languages of Massachusetts, Rhode Island,
>> and Connecticut), which are a lexically innovative group in general.
> Cheyenne and Blackfoot too?
Cheyenne, yes, don't happen to know about Blackfoot offhand.

>> Also keep in mind that it means 'spoon' -- not 'squash' -- in every
>> Algonquian language except Miami.
> Wait, are we talking about squashes at all?  Does this word not also mean
> 'squash' in many or most Algonquian languages?  Or is the 'squash' meaning
> found only in Miami?
The etymon in question means 'spoon' in every Algonquian language that has
it. Except for Miami. There it means 'squash, pumpkin'.

However, it apparently can have the latter meaning occasionally when it
appears as a final, as in Menominee /wi:nE:mEhkwan/ 'squash'.

> I'm still a little puzzled over the background picture, though.  Did the term
> originally mean 'spoon' in Algonquian, and then get extended to 'squash' in
> Miami, passing then to Dakotan and Chiwere-Winnebago?  Or was it originally
> 'squash', and shifted to 'spoon' only in all the northern Algonquian groups
> that presumably did not grow squashes?
It's simplest to assume it meant 'spoon' in Proto-Algonquian and simply kept
that meaning everywhere except Miami, where it shifted to 'squash, pumpkin'.
I assume this is simply because in some places and at some times the most
common spoons were gourds. (Tho there's also evidence that the Miami used to
make spoons out of shells.) It's an easy semantic jump to make.

As for the Siouans who borrowed the term, they could have either borrowed it
from Miami directly, or, just as plausibly, borrowed it from someone else
but made the same semantic shift in the word when they borrowed it.

> Did Dakotans and Chiwere-Winnebagos learn squash cultivation from their
> Algonquian neighbors?

I have absolutely no idea.

> Or did they originally have some other word, which was replaced, say, by the
> word used by Algonquian wives who came into their midst?

It's interesting to ask whether ANY Proto-Siouan word for 'squash' can be
reconstructed on the basis of Siouan languages that weren't next to
Algonquians -- like, say, Crow, Mandan, Biloxi, Tutelo. If not, maybe it was
a new concept.

>> Well, in this regard, within proto-Algonquian, this word is totally
>> reconstructible but cannot be segmented. The root is unrecognizable. That
>> might speak to it being a loan into Algonquian EXTREMELY long ago. Or perhaps
>> it simply shows an old root that dropped out of use everywhere except this
>> noun.
> So there is nothing preventing it from being a loan into proto-Algonquian,
> whenever that was.  That's an important piece to know.

True, but that'd be at a *very* deep level, and who knows where they would
have been geographically that far back.


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